Treating a Rat With Respiratory Issues

The first thing about treating a rat is to know what symptoms you’re looking for. I’m going to focus just on respiratory infections in rats.

Symptoms of a Respiratory Infection

  • Labored Breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Gurgling in chest
  • Porphyrin around nose (Porphyrin looks like blood, but in reality, it’s just rat mucus)

The next thing you need to know is what kinds of medicine will treat a rat. A respiratory infection in a rat is bacterial which will need antibiotics.

Antibiotics for Respiratory Infections in Rats

  • Tylan (the powdered form of tylosin)
  • Tetracycline
  • Cefadroxil (for secondary infections – best used in combination with Gentocin)
  • Chlorampenicol
  • Baytril (enrofloxacin)
  • Doxycycline
  • Baytril and Doxycycline in combination
  • Gentocin in combination with Cefadroxil
  • Amikacin in combination with Cefadroxil

To read more about these drugs, you should refer to the RMCA drug chart. Rats are born with mycoplasma which can flare up and cause a respiratory infection. Therefore, it is important to use two antibiotics. One to treat the mycoplasma flare ups and one to treat the bacterial infection. You need to maintain medications for two weeks after the symptoms disappear. Since rats are prey animals, they can hide residual symptoms and you need to make sure you tackle those. Next up is knowing how to give your rat the correct amount of medication. The recommended dosages are listed on the RMCA Drug Chart.

To mix a tablet or capsule into a liquid, a 1 ml syringe or insulin syringe is required to measure out the dosages. Insulin syringes are labeled in units of measurement, with 10 units equaling 0.1 ml. Pick what liquid volume dosage you want to give. For a medicine that might taste bad, it is recommended making the dose 0.1 ml. For medicines that you know your rats will like, you can make the dose 0.3 ml. Using a sweet flavored syrup works well for blending most medicines.

Next, figure out how many dosages there are in the pill. Split up the strength of the tablet or capsule by the required dose. For instance, if a pill holds 250 milligram and the dose is 10 mg/lb, divide 250 by 10. The capsule holds 25 doses for the average 1-lb rat. Grind the tablet or capsule contents to a powder (if it isn’t already a powder). I usually just smash my pills with a cooking pot. This method works will for me. Now to decide on how much liquid to mix, follow the following example:

For example, let’s say you have a 100 mg capsule of doxycycline. Since the dose for doxy is 2.5 mg/lb, this capsule contains 40 doses for the average 1-lb rat. If you decided to make the dose 0.3 ml then you multiply 40 by 0.3 and you get 12 ml. You mix the capsule with 12 ml of flavoring.